By Jeff Beals

In last week’s article, we analyzed a poorly executed sales voicemail I had received.  This week, we go a little further and talk about what you SHOULD do when leaving a voicemail for a cold prospect.

Focus on the Recipient’s Value – Make your voicemails interesting by focusing on what the recipient cares about. Remember that people are more interested in their lives and their businesses than they are in you and yours. Research recipients before you call them. Talk about what interests the recipient or what matters to his or her business.  Do not talk about your company or your product’s features and benefits in a prospecting voicemail.

Be compelling – Think of a strong idea you want to convey in your message and say it. Surprising or insightful messages have a much higher likelihood of being returned. Boring, rambling messages as well as messages that are too focused on the caller’s (salesperson’s) interests are easily deleted and not returned.

Don’t “Touch Base” – Never say you’re calling to “touch base” or “check in.” Those are useless reasons to waste a prospect’s time. Always say something of value.

Use an Old Advertising Trick – Use an enticement. Hint what benefit the person will receive if they return your call. Then spark their curiosity, saying you have something to share with them that they will find valuable or interesting. Another trick is to ask a thought-provoking question at the end of the message. That could compel the listener to call you back.

Conserve Your Words – Say a lot in a little amount of time. Voicemails need to be short, ideally less than 20 seconds but no more than 30 seconds. In that short time, convey a captivating message. Be like a newspaper reporter writing an article in that you put the most important idea in a powerful and information-rich lead sentence.

Be Easy to Reach – Leave your call-back number. One of the easiest excuses a prospect has to NOT return a voicemail message is if the call-back number is not readily available.  Only 7 percent of sales voicemails are ever returned, which means it’s hard enough to get call backs.  Don’t do anything that lowers the likelihood.

No Deception – Some sales reps like to deceive prospects in their voicemails either by implying that they are returning the recipient’s call (even though the recipient never called them in the first place) or by name-dropping a person they don’t really know. You don’t want to do anything that comes back to embarrass yourself if you do end up getting a meeting.

Don’t Give Up – You’re being naïve if you think one message – no matter how creative it may be – will do the trick. Your prospects are so busy that they just assume callers like you will eventually call them back. I’m not saying you should carpet-bomb people with daily messages, but it is now taking 8 to 12 attempts to get a cold decision maker to return your call. This is especially true with high-ranking, senior decision makers. The average sales rep gives up after only 2.5 attempts.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.